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Modern bus driver training

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notadriver

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Does anyone know if modern buses require a higher level of knowledge to drive due to their complexity compared with those from the 1990s ?
 
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busesrusuk

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If you can drive an automatic car you can drive an automatic bus (with suitable training of course to get used to the size!)

Buses aren't difficult to drive compared to say a pre-selector gearbox on an RT.

Buses are fitted with all sorts of gadgets and gizmo's, just like a new car but basically the pedal on the right makes it go whilst the pedal on the left makes it stop ;)
 

busesrusuk

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Driving is one thing but the CPC is something that to me is complicated with 4 parts need doing.

More info here: https://www.gov.uk/become-lorry-bus-driver
CPC isn't difficult - its mostly common sense. Most companies who provide in-house training will offer coaching and tuition on the CPC elements of the driving test.

Modules 1A and B (the theory test) are tougher versions of the car theory (100 questions instead of 50)and hazard awareness (19 clips instead of 14 (from memory)).

Mod 2 which is the case studies is mostly "what if" scenarios whilst Mod 4 is the enhanced vehicle walkaround check. Any instructor worth their salt should instil the vehicle check into your basic driver training from day one. Its not something to be feared or be put off by. Like most driving tests, most people find the practical test the most challenging...
 

GusB

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Are today's buses really that much more complicated than they were in the 1990s, or even the 80s, for that matter? With a few exceptions, most buses would have had two-pedals, power steering and semi- or fully-automatic transmission. Most of the electronic gadgetry is probably dealt with at the depot and the driver will still have standard safety checks to do, along with having some training on fault-finding. Same tasks, different tech?

I'd suggest that the things that have become more and more difficult over time are worsening traffic conditions, and those muppets that board every now and again wanting to go somewhere... :)
 
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Flange Squeal

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I think @GusB has summed up my thoughts pretty well. Having driven both heritage and modern vehicles, the physical task of driving is much improved with proper power steering, auto gearboxes and more ergonomic cab designs (although some you still question!). Engineering departments may possibly have a different opinion though, with buses having more in the way of electrics to play up. Electrical gremlins seem to be one of the main causes of headaches for maintenance staff I know! So while in my opinion a modern vehicle is physically easier to drive than older buses, the level of modern day traffic (and standards of some driving, must get in front of the bus at all costs) compared to driving those older buses in their service days may make the mental aspect of driving somewhat more stressful. I've only driven heritage vehicles in modern traffic conditions though, so can't make a full comparison on that mental/stress aspect.
 

GusB

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I think @GusB has summed up my thoughts pretty well. Having driven both heritage and modern vehicles, the physical task of driving is much improved with proper power steering, auto gearboxes and more ergonomic cab designs (although some you still question!). Engineering departments may possibly have a different opinion though, with buses having more in the way of electrics to play up. Electrical gremlins seem to be one of the main causes of headaches for maintenance staff I know! So while in my opinion a modern vehicle is physically easier to drive than older buses, the level of modern day traffic (and standards of some driving, must get in front of the bus at all costs) compared to driving those older buses in their service days may make the mental aspect of driving somewhat more stressful. I've only driven heritage vehicles in modern traffic conditions though, so can't make a full comparison on that mental/stress aspect.
In my previous post I mentioned that there were a few exceptions - Northern Scottish was one company that continued with manual Leyland Leopards (second-hand examples from Central, Midland/Kelvin and Western) right up until the early 90s. A 1989 fleetbook lists 32 in the fleet, while in the following edition the number was down to 2. Most of these would probably have been running on rural routes, but some of those would have originated in Aberdeen where there would have been a considerable amount of city traffic to deal with. Central Scottish was also using manual Leopards in the late 1980s. I vividly recall an evening rush-hour journey from Glasgow to Coatbridge on one, and I don't think I've ever seen so much transmission-abuse; I was surprised the thing had any teeth left!

While I've never driven a bus, heritage or otherwise, I did once have the opportunity to sit in the cab of one of these Leopards, and it needed a fair amount of physical effort to operate the clutch pedal. I can't imagine what that would be like day-in, day-out in city traffic!
 

Aictos

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CPC isn't difficult - its mostly common sense. Most companies who provide in-house training will offer coaching and tuition on the CPC elements of the driving test.

Modules 1A and B (the theory test) are tougher versions of the car theory (100 questions instead of 50)and hazard awareness (19 clips instead of 14 (from memory)).

Mod 2 which is the case studies is mostly "what if" scenarios whilst Mod 4 is the enhanced vehicle walkaround check. Any instructor worth their salt should instil the vehicle check into your basic driver training from day one. Its not something to be feared or be put off by. Like most driving tests, most people find the practical test the most challenging...
It's the theory I think I will struggle with, the actual driving I think I be okay on.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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I think the responses thus far illustrate the different aspects of driving and how these have changed over years.

In terms of the physical aspect, the effort required to drive is much reduced. Yes, semi-auto/fully-auto gearboxes have been around for many years, with vehicles fitted with power steering etc. In my native north east, Bristol LHs were a workhorse well into the 1990s; drivers hauling those round (no power steering, a heavy clutch with a manual gearbox) were a common sight on urban routes especially on Teesside. However, I'd also point out that even VRs with power steering were not the lightest. For those reasons (among many), it wasn't a surprise that you'd not see many female drivers. The physical challenge (in terms of effort) these days is much reduced. I recall when the first Optare Vectas arrived to replace LHs in the North East Bus fleets and grizzled old blokes were there saying just how easy the new vehicles were to drive.

Instead, now there are different challenges. Firstly, driver shift lengths are now longer than they were with the consequent mental effort; it would be interesting to see how the shift length and driving time per shift increased from 1986 to 1996. Some may argue that the improvement in physical handling has enabled longer shift lengths so the burden has transferred from physical to mental. Then you have the impact of traffic congestion and the need to thread a bus through with timetables that are much more tightly timed than 30-40 years ago. The increase in size in cars (SUVs etc) is slightly mirrored with buses in that they are now much longer than they were; a 12m vehicle was usually confined to long distance coaches, whereas now you have vehicles of that length or longer working urban services, a change that came during the 1990s mainly.

So it really isn't a binary question.
 
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In 1985 I passed my test in a Bristol Lodekka, no power steering and double declutch on every gear change.

The day after passing we did vehicle familiarization, what a revelation, semi auto REs and VRs (some of the VRs didn't have power steering), full and semi auto Nationals and Olympians. We did have loads of Bristol LHs which were manual and very hard work in local service, probably part of why my left knee is knackered.

Modern buses all seem full auto now, at least, round here. Personally I preferred semi auto, gave you a bit more choice. Who doesn't like a decent semi?

Once you get used to the size of your vehicle it's a doddle, and traffic and other drivers won't bother you if you are any good at the job.

One advantage of driving a Lodekka, you didn't have to deal with the customers.

Edit TGW posted while I was composing this, shift length, conditions, earnings and driving hours have all considerably worsened as the years go by.
 
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TheGrandWazoo

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Once you get used to the size of your vehicle it's a doddle, and traffic and other drivers won't bother you if you are any good at the job.
True to an extent. A good driver will know the size of their vehicle etc, but stuff like street furniture etc is a bit trickier when vehicles are of a longer wheelbase.

Linking in with @GusB and crash gearbox Leopards, my late father's firm bought a handful not knowing they were manuals. The old sweats (like my dad) quite enjoyed them having had the experience of Lodekkas, MWs etc but not so the younger drivers who were used to LHs, REs, VRs, Nationals etc.

Some VRs also had Autosteer (nicknamed Autoveer) air assisted power steering that made the handling disconcertingly light.

I've no idea as to how many female drivers are now employed in the industry but they were still very rare during the 1980s and 1990s. The improvements to the ergonomics of cab design and reduced physical exertion are, I would imagine, factors in more lady drivers.
 

dan5324

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I personally find driving say a coach more comfortable, relaxing and easier than a car. You can command more of the road more with a massive tri axle coach and take control more of certain traffic situations more so than I ever could in a car.
It’s always daunting when you first pass and are in training. Once you get a few shifts under your belt however it becomes second nature.
 

L401CJF

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It's not so much a higher level of knowledge although its beneficial to know the meaning of all the various warning lights. I've driven a number of preserved buses - Olympians, Lance/Arrow, Dart etc. Whilst they're simple from a maintenance perspective and less to go wrong, you have got to remember they're fitted with drum brakes which often require a bit of a firmer pressing etc and take a bit more driving so to speak.

Newer buses are easier to drive than a car; simple stop, go, open door etc. Yes you have to remember things like lowering the step occasionally, and to factor in poor performance if it's gone into limp mode due to a fault, but generally they've got good brakes and a fair bit of poke from some engines.

The driver training isn't hard really, usual theory test etc but the CPC is pretty straight forward, as said before just common sense. The mod 4 test is basically a walk around check with the odd question, and the CPC courses you need to attend every 5 years are literally just sitting in a class room. You're not tested on any of it and half the ones I've been to tend to drift off talking about anything and everything for the 8 hours with the odd course thrown in!
 
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Eyersey468

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I personally find driving say a coach more comfortable, relaxing and easier than a car. You can command more of the road more with a massive tri axle coach and take control more of certain traffic situations more so than I ever could in a car.
It’s always daunting when you first pass and are in training. Once you get a few shifts under your belt however it becomes second nature.
I agree

Does anyone know if modern buses require a higher level of knowledge to drive due to their complexity compared with those from the 1990s ?
I've been in the industry since 2007 so there were still a lot of buses from the 90s in service when I started, I would say a new bus is no harder to drive than an Olympian
 

DC3

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I did my training in a Lynx, then the majority of my service work was either Metrobus or B10L. When the garage I worked at got brand new Scania Omnilinks it was like a space shuttle!
 
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